Leaving the hula hula girls behind
With an overcast sky and a 10 - 15 knot southerly wind, Glasgow Clipper just crossed the starting line first to take the initial lead. After a short beat Cape Town Clipper had pulled out in front and rounded the windward mark ahead of Bristol, New York and Glasgow.
London Clipper, with her new skipper Rory Gillard, followed in 5th place and was chased by Hong Kong, Liverpool and finally, Jersey. Bristol was first to raise her spinnaker and maintained a more southerly course, while Cape Town favoured a more northerly track. The wind remained steady at 15 knots giving the fleet an excellent send off although, for once, the sun deserted Ko Olina.
The far end of the starting line was marked by an old Fire Boat, which has been restored and normally carries passengers around the coast; this time the passengers were all the friends and family who enjoyed a grandstand view of the race start. To add to the atmosphere a pod of 4 humpback whales surfaced in the wake of the departing boats as if to bid them farewell.
Before their departure all the leg 3 crew members gathered on the pontoon for a mass briefing and a group photograph. Over this two-week period a tremendously warm relationship has developed between the Clipper crews and our hosts at the Ko Olina Resort and Marina. The crews all appreciate just how much effort has been put into arranging the visit, especially the Prize Giving ceremony, and expressed their gratitude to everyone involved in making this such an enjoyable stop.
With the 8 docks empty there is now a big hole in the front of the marina but this visit has brought Ko Olina into the headlines both in Hawaii and internationally. It has been a superbly run facility in a glorious setting - now certain to attract other events and visits.
Adam Kyffin in Liverpool Clipper is the Duty Skipper for the first week. He will be collecting the positions and distances to run for the other 7 yachts and sending them back with his observations.
Although Cape Town's skipper, Roger Steven-Jennings, signed off with a chirpy 'See you in Hong Kong' the leg 3 course is not actually that difficult, providing you have the right page open in the Race Instructions!
After the green windward mark at Ko Olina, the next mark to aim for is the Race 6 finish line just to the east of Tokyo Bay, some 3,400 miles away. In reality, the boats are likely to favour a westerly course to begin with and cover nearly 4,000 miles.
In February 2001, the records for London Clipper showed that they took 23.1 days. For this passage, the race schedule allows them 24 days - but they lose a day when they cross the international dateline.
The expected arrival in Yokohama is Saturday, 8 March 2003. As the fleet sailed towards the horizon away from Ko Olina, this may have looked like a daunting task - especially to those crew members just joining. This is a challenge many former crews will identify with, although the butterflies will soon go. The days of training and being within mobile telephone range are now light years away - this is true blue water ocean racing!
03:00 GMT 13 February 2003
Pos Yacht Distance to Finish
1 Bristol 3315.8 (nautical miles)
2 Hong Kong 3315.8
3 London 3316.2
4 New York 3316.9
5 Glasgow 3317
6 Jersey 3317
7 Cape Town 3317.5
8 Liverpool 3319.7